In 1985, the reckless Texan Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) was diagnosed with HIV and he’s on the brink of death. The doctors in the hospital give him 30 days to live but he tells them “nothing can kill Ron Woodroof.” He researches his illness and finds out that it’s not just a disease for solely homosexuals as he thought, but that you can also get it by drug use. As it turns out, he did have one random night of unprotected sex with a heroine user. He also finds out that his local hospital is doing a drug trial of AZT, the only medicine on the market to treat the virus. His only concern is that he wants to be sure he gets the actual medicine and not the placebo. He gets the idea to pay an orderly to sneak him the pills by the case to self-medicate. Because of his cocaine use and his lifestyle, the medicine ends up making him worse and he becomes hospitalized. This is where he meets Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgender female who also has HIV. Ron gets the idea that he needs to get the medicine so that no one can tell him what to do, in Mexico.
Dallas Buyers Club is one of those incredible true stories that show that sometimes the wrong way can be the right way. The casting is spot on withal of the talent the actors have brought to the table. Matthew McConaughey is brilliant and is very convincing as a desperate man that doesn’t want to die. For this film, he shows how method acting can pay off and he lost 38 lbs for the part. He’s so gifted but actor that made his mark in the film is Jared Leto. He also did the method acting route so far that they said in the featurette, he became the character Rayon at almost all times. He never came out of character when he was on the set and, at times, when his co-stars would speak to him on the phone. There was actually a point where you forget that it’s someone portraying a character and not the actual person on film.
One of the main points that the film was trying to make is that the healthcare system in this country is broken and it has been for a long time. The movie was set in the 80’s and it proves that there hasn’t been much progress made in 20 years. The other point that I felt the movie softly made is that HIV and AIDS hit the scene; the rumor was that it was a disease that only affected homosexuals. That was part of why Ron and his friends reacted how they did to the news of their friend being sick. This was due to people being uninformed and the illness being so new at the time. I know there are many films out there that try to hammer this point home, but this movie being more mainstream, there’s hope that viewers understand the message.
Directors and Cast
Director – Jean-Marc Vallée
Matthew McConaughey – Ron Woodroof
Jennifer Garner – Dr. Eve Saks
Jared Leto – Rayon/Raymond
Steve Zahn – Tucker
Dallas Roberts – David Wayne
Michael O’Neill – Richard Barkley
Griffin Dunne – Dr. Vass
The transfer of this Blu-ray is so clean and it’s a very high quality release. There’s a light grain giving the movie a feeling that it’s from a slightly older time period with a nice warm tone. There’s also natural coloring to go along with the grain. There aren’t a lot of scenes that have bold coloring but when the color is there, it looks beautiful.
Another component of the transfer that was amazing is the details from the clarity. When the regular patients are losing weight drastically, the lines in their skin are incredibly noticeable. I know a lot of it is done with make-up, but give the film credibility as you watch these people wither away. The blacks are nice and dark but at times with minimal contrast issues. The minor issues are exactly that, minor and they don’t affect the viewing experience.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for the film is practically flawless. It’s mostly dialogue so there aren’t really many times that the soundtrack uses all of the speakers. The sound is clear and separated in the front speakers for much of the exchanged dialogue.
The mix does handle the ambient noises at various times with precision and much care. This is really apparent during the times where Ron is on the plane, in the various bar scenes, and the echoing while in the hospital hallways.
The one scene where the audio highly impressed me was during a scene where Ron enters a room filled with butterflies. Every speaker was filled with the sound of flapping wings.
The release does not have a lot of extras included. There are a few deleted scenes and a short featurette. I was really hoping for a little more about the man Ron Woodroof that the writers/actors may have had to research.
Deleted scenes – The first scene is of Rayon in the hospital, receiving his meds from Dr. Saks. The second scene is of Ron and Dr. Saks at her house exchanging some info until Rayon burst in looking like she is in a lot of pain. Ron injects Rayon with a natural vitamin booster and tells her to come by Ron’s buyers’ club.
Behind the Dallas Buyer Club – This short featurette talks a bit with the cast and crew about making the movie. It would’ve been even shorter if there weren’t for the clips from the film included.
Trailers – There are a few previews form Universal Home Video and Rogue Pictures.
– Closed Circuit
– The World’s End
– Moonrise Kingdom
– Hyde Park on the Hudson
– Promise Land
– The Place Beyond the Pines
Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD)
UltraViolet digital copy
iTunes Digital copy
Slipcover on the initial release
1080p AVC MPEG-4
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Overall, I really enjoyed the film. I have years of experience with how the medical system can be a nightmare to deal with and it really is a shame to see that these sick people have to go to these lengths just to survive. I mean honestly, you can barely call it living. As I said earlier, the casting is spot on for all of the characters. There is so much talent not just in the lead roles but very much in the supporting actors. The audio and video transfers are excellent. This release is an excellent way to start off the New Year, showing that the studios are stepping up the quality of Blu-rays. I highly recommend not just seeing the movie but adding it to your collection with confidence.